News & Blog


Stephen Osborn will be recognized as our 2022 Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year at the Literacy Center's Spellebration event on March 23, 2022

Stephen Osborn understands the challenges of navigating a new country. Born in remote South America to missionary parents, Stephen did not live in the United States until he was 16. As he wrote in his original Literacy Center volunteer application in 2015, that experience gave him a special place in my heart for people learning English.”

Latesha Lipscomb is receiving the Literacy Center's 2022 Ledy Award for Community Engagement [sponsored by Fifth Third Bank] at our Spellebration event on March 23, 2022. 

Latesha Lipscomb is a Grand Rapids change agent. As a community activist, entrepreneur, public speaker, and mother, Latesha has made it her mission to build bridges and create inclusive, welcoming environments in her hometown.

Minnie Morey is the recipient of this year's Champion of Literacy Award [sponsored by Comerica Bank]. Minnie will receive the award at this year's Spellebration event on March 23, 2022. 

Minnie Morey is the kind of person who sees a need, steps up, and leads the way toward addressing it. For decades now, Minnie has championed the rich gifts brought to West Michigan by the immigrants and refugees from Asian countries. As a volunteer, an activist, and Executive Director of the West Michigan Asian American Association (WMAAA), Minnie has made it her mission to help remove the barriers that New Americans face in this country. George Aquino, Vice President/Managing Director of AHC+ Hospitality, writes of Minnie, “this petite woman is a GIANT in the Asian American community in the state.”

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – February 22, 2022 – The Literacy Center of West Michigan will recognize three community leaders at its 29th annual Spellebration event on March 23 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo. Minnie Morey, executive director, West Michigan Asian American Association (WMAAA), will receive the Champion of Literacy Award sponsored by Comerica. Latesha Lipscomb, director of engagement and relationships, AmplifyGR, will receive the Ledy Award for Community Engagement. And Stephen Osborn, a Literacy Center of West Michigan tutor, will receive the Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award.

Written by Jennifer Summers, CWE Coordinator

Olesia and her husband Yaroslav moved from Ukraine to the United States in 2019 and soon after started English classes at the Literacy Center. When I asked her if she would feel comfortable sharing about the situation in Ukraine, Olesia jumped at the chance. She said, “now my country needs all the support and help! The more people […] know about Ukraine, the better and more informed people in Russia will be!”

 Written by Carrie Roper, IET Coordinator 

When Mousumi came with her family to the United States, she quickly realized she would have doors open to her here may not have been possible in her home country of India. Mousumi was the first in her family to graduate from college, but once she married and had children, she had was expected to focus more on taking care of her family.

Upon coming to West Michigan, Mousumi found that there were various options for her to attend English classes online while also balancing her time as a mother and helping her children in school. It was at her English classes at the Kent ISD that Mousumi learned about the online Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) English classes with the Literacy Center and Goodwill Employment Services.

Written by Jennifer Summers

I recently talked with learners in two of our community English classes and posed the question “What is something that has surprised you, in either a good way or a bad way, about the culture of West Michigan?”

When Benjamin Murekezi and his family were able to leave their refugee camp in Rwanda and come to the United States, they were excited but also scared. “To just go and not to know where I am going” and to not know English worried this father of six. 

Written by Megan Bowers

Untitled_design_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy.pngIn my role as a Literacy Coordinator at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, Conversation Club has been the greatest way for me to get to know learners on a personal level and really see their personality shine through. Conversational skills are often a struggle for second language learners who are suddenly thrust into an environment of native English speakers. That is why I love providing an opportunity for these learners to not only practice conversation with other English language learners, but also native English speakers. That’s why volunteer involvement is so important to the goals of Conversation Club. 

Written by Chad Patton, Customized Workplace English Director

When I first started working at the Literacy Center of West Michigan in 2015, it did not take long for me to figure out that adult literacy meant more than words. For many learners, literacy is about connection. Literacy is about doing that thing that they’ve been wanting to do for years; it’s about having a conversation with the person at the grocery store checkout; it's about reading to their grandchildren; it’s about being a part of their community in a way that makes them feel welcome. Literacy is about trust. 

The Literacy Center is partnering with several businesses and organizations in West Michigan to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) training for its employees.

Written by Jennifer Summers, CWE Coordinator

Donghee Kim and her husbandTroy,have brewed beer across the globe. The couple started a beer brewery in Donghee’snative South Korea. After some time there, they decided to move back toTroy’shometown of Rockford, Michigan, and start a brewery here. They opened the family business, Third Nature Brewing,to positive reviews from the local beer community

Written by Yilin Wendland-Liu, ATP Director

Hnin Kee is my learner. She is originally from Burma and has been in this country for almost two years. As a mother of four children, the three younger ones keep her busy every day, and more importantly, they keep her at home. 

Written by Carrie Roper, IET Coordinator

Cuban natives Barbara and Raul grew up in the same neighborhood in their home country, but they didn’t meet each other until they had both moved to the United States and had a chance encounter on Facebook. Not long after that, the couple found their way to West Michigan.

About: Dr. Soman earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at Purdue University and joined GVSU in the Chemistry Department in 2000.  Dr. Soman is currently the Dean of College of Education and Community Innovation and has served in a number of leadership roles during her career at Grand Valley State University, including Associate Vice President for Enrollment Development & University Registrar, Director of Financial Aid, Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  

About: Sharron led the GRPS Human Resources & Legal Services Department. Sharron had over 23 years of experience working in a K-12 environment, having served as the General Counsel and Chief of Staff in a large urban school system prior to joining the GRPS team. Sharron has been a lawyer for 40 years specializing in the areas of school law, employment law and litigation.

About: Tim is a partner on the firm's Litigation and Trial Practice Team. His practice focuses on helping clients resolve business disputes, including complex commercial tort and contract litigation, supply chain disputes, trade secret and unfair competition matters, and corporate governance issues.

About: Deidra Mitchell serves as President & CEO of Waséyabek Development Company, LLC (WDC), a 100% Tribally-owned economic development entity of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP).

About: Lilibeth is the Lead Planner and Founder of Isabel Events & Design, LLC. She has more than 10 years of experience in association and non-profit management, marketing, communications, development and conference coordination.

Written by Cynthia Salinas, Communications Coordinator

When asked about what motivates him, Kashindi, a father of eight, responds, “Right now, I’m parent for big family.” He continues, “[I’m] motivated to go to work. If not motivated, you cannot improve or prepare kids or family.” Kashindi and his family came to the United States as refugeesabout five years ago.

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